Before baseball, basketball, or football, there were 2 great sports in the United States.  One was boxing, a game of wit, skill and physical strength.  The other was the track.  The races were where the otherwise upstanding gentlemen would gamble away their hard earned (sometimes easily earned) cash, and celebrate amongst themselves with drinks and cigars.  And while the Mint Julep has become the official cocktail of the Kentucky Derby, there were other forgotten cocktails named after races and their winners.  The Derby cocktail was one of them.  Trader Vic in his Bartender’s Guide (1947) lists three variations of the Derby.  I will list all three for reference, but the first one is found in Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails.

The Derby
1 oz Bourbon Whiskey
1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth
1/2 oz Orange Curacao
3/4 oz Lime Juice

I found the Derby to be an astounding cocktail. Well served before a meal as an apertif, the drink has a fruity sweet first sip which gives way to the bourbon and finishes with an astringently sour finish.

The Derby (#2)
1 1/2 oz Gin
2 dashes Peach Bitters
1 sprig Mint

The Derby (#3)
1 oz Brandy
2 dashes Curacao
2 dashes Pineapple syrup
1 dash Orange Bitters

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